The Wife

I hope that the recent success of the movie turns people to the book as well. Reading the book quickly on the heels of watching the movie, it’s astounding how much hits the cutting room floor in order to produce a movie. There are truckloads of nuance and backstory and characters that are simply abandoned in an attempt to quickly tell this story via Hollywood, sacrificing the 3rd child of the couple who happened to turn out to be a lesbian to her fraud author father’s dismay. Too complicated for the silver screen? It’s the kind of book that’s crazy to read alongside the other things I’m reading at the moment: an exploration of Sylvia Plath’s relationship with Ted Hughes. In this novel, the more talented writer is the woman, and she completely subsumes herself to her husband in order to gain the success that would never be hers as a woman writer. Sylvia, of course, gains her power separately from Ted, but only reaches the pinnacle once she offs herself, giving extra oomph to her words predicting death.

The one thing that puzzles me is the ending (same in the movie)— Joan tells the biographer that his instincts are incorrect, that Joe was the writer, not her. Does she have to preserve this fiction because to say otherwise would be to look ridiculous, grasping, insane? I suppose so. She was yearning for freedom on her own terms, and she gets freedom of a sort when he dies.